from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A member of the municipal legislative body in a town or city in many jurisdictions.
  • n. A member of the higher branch of the municipal or borough council in England and Ireland before 1974.
  • n. A noble of high rank or authority in Anglo-Saxon England.
  • n. The chief officer of a shire in Anglo-Saxon England.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A member of several municipal legislative bodies in a city or town.
  • n. A roasted turkey, called an alderman in chains or an alderman hung in chains if garnished with sausages. (1811 Dictionary of Vulgar Tongue)
  • n. A man's potbelly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A senior or superior; a person of rank or dignity.
  • n. One of a board or body of municipal officers next in order to the mayor and having a legislative function. They may, in some cases, individually exercise some magisterial and administrative functions.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In the Anglo-Saxon period of English history, a title meaning at first simply chieftain or lord, but later used specifically to denote the chief magistrate of a county or group of counties.
  • n. Hence In modern usage, a magistrate of a city or borough, next in rank to the mayor.
  • n. In England, a half-crown: a meaning explained by Brewer as containing an allusion to the fact that an alderman is a sort of half-king.
  • n. A turkey.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a member of a municipal legislative body (as a city council)


Middle English, a person of high rank, from Old English ealdorman : ealdor, elder, chief (from eald, old; see al-2 in Indo-European roots) + man, man; see man.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English aldormann or ealdormann. (Wiktionary)



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